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  • Writer's pictureJacob Hansen

Solving the Abortion Puzzle


As abortion debates rage some Latter Day Saints jump on the "Life Begins At Conception" and "Abortion Is Murder" bandwagon. Others think that because the Church will allow abortion under extremely limited circumstances that we must side with the camp that calls themselves "Pro Choice". In the following dialogue we explore why both these perspectives are wrong.


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Thomas: Abortion is murder!



Gordon: So you want to lock up any woman who had an abortion? After all you do believe in locking up murderers right?


Thomas: hmmm, I don’t know, maybe some. I guess it kind of depends.


Gordon: On what? I thought that you just said abortion is murder. You either think murderers don’t need to go to jail or you don’t think they are really committing murder.



Thomas: maybe it’s like a murder but the person did not realize they are committing murder.



Gordon: I am pretty sure most of them know they are killing their baby, but even if they did not realize it we would at least have some kind of manslaughter right?



Thomas: I don’t know… maybe.



Gordon: How about my cousin? During IVF the only procedure they could do was one that ended up fertilizing 15 eggs. The problem is that the procedure is not exact but it was the only one that would allow them the chance for pregnancy. They only implanted 2. The others which were frozen for future use were eventually discarded after they got pregnant 3 more times without help. Was that murder? If life begins at conception then it is murder right? And considering my cousin also believes that unborn babies are babies it was a knowing murder. What kind of punishment should my cousin the murderer have?



Thomas: Ok I feel like you are just trying to find weird excuses to justify abortion. The vast vast majority of abortions are just because the mom does not want the baby, not because of some serious medical issue.


Gordon: You are exactly right but none of that changes the fact that my cousin is a murderer right? And murderers should go to jail right?


Thomas: ….. I don’t know I need to think about it.


Gordon: If you feel weird about sending a woman who had IVF to prison for 20 to life I don’t think your intuition is wrong. The reality is that as Latter Day Saints we DON'T have any official doctrine that say that life begins at conception. And we even allow for abortion under limited circumstances in the case of rape. If it was murder, why would murdering a baby just because it was conceived in rape make any sense? Is murder not wrong just because the church says so? How do we reconcile this kind of stuff?


Thomas: Wait are you suggesting our church is ok with abortion.


Gordon: NO WAY!!!




Gordon: The church opposes abortion but makes extremely limited exceptions. How are we do make sense of this? I want to propose an argument that presents a paradigm that seems to resolve our moral intuitions around abortion and make sense of the churches position.


Thomas: go for it.


Gordon:

P1: A human being is a body and spirit in one.

P2: A body may exist without a spirit in it.

P3: We do not know when the spirit enters the body

P4: A human body is sacred.

P5: Murder is the willful killing of an innocent human being.

P6: The destruction of a body may be justified.


Conclusions: Abortion may or may not be murder depending on when it takes place and why. The killing of another human being via abortion to save the life of another is justifiable. Regardless of when abortion takes place it is at minimum the destruction of a sacred body. The destruction of a human body via abortion may be justifiable.


Thomas: interesting. P2 seem like it could be a weak point. What do you mean that a body can exist without a spirit? Are you implying that at the moment of conception the spirit may not be in the body?


Gordon: exactly. It’s just an assumption that the spirit instantly enters the body. The church does not teach that.


Thomas: But the church does teach that a body alone is sacred.


Gordon: Bingo! Even a body that is in a grave is considered sacred and to disturb it or destroy it for no good reason is a serious sin. However, if we need to exhume a body to solve a crime we think it’s justified.


Thomas: So in limited extreme cases like rape the destruction of a body early in a pregnancy could theoretically be morally justifiable.


Gordon: yes! The bottom line is that it’s possible to see early abortion as the destruction of a sacred body instead of as murder.


Thomas: Wait but can’t someone say, “it’s not a baby, it’s just a body, if I want to get rid of it that is my choice”


Gordon: No, it’s not their body, it’s someone else’s. If I went and dug up my grandma's body and hung her skeleton on my wall in my house, would I be doing something immoral? Would I be profaning the sacred? Of course


Thomas: but isn’t there a difference between a live multi cell embryo and a dead body.


Gordon: Great Point. Yes. I think that a living body is more sacred than a dead one.


Thomas: Can a body be alive without a spirit?


Gordon: Do viruses have spirits? I don’t think it’s crazy to believe that material bodies can show biological function without being fully alive in a human sense.


Thomas: but isn’t that just speculation.


Gordon: Perhaps but I don’t think it’s a crazy model. It seems far less crazy that locking up my cousin in prison or thinking that murderers should not go to jail. It also seems to explain why the church says abortion is always seriously immoral but does not treat women who had abortions the same way they treat murderers. It also make sense for how the church could allow abortion for things like rape and why you don’t get sealed to miscarried babies.


Thomas: interesting.


Gordon: Yeah I don’t claim this is the infallible truth but it seems consistent with what the church teaches and makes the most sense of the issue so far as I can tell. If you have a better model feel free to tell me about it.


Thomas: Yeah saying life begins at conception and all abortion is murder sounds good and seems easy but I guess if I am not willing to lock up the people I am considering as murderers then perhaps I need to rethink my assumptions.


Gordon: yep. I think we should 100% oppose abortion as a serious sin that is either murder or dang close to it. At best it is a sad but justified action under super limited circumstances.


Thomas: So what should government do? Are you against outlawing abortion?


Gordon: Actually yes. Though they absolutely should overturn Roe V Wade because the 10th amendment demands it. The constitution does not say there is a right to abortion. State should decide and I think they should make it legal. However, we need sensible gun.. I mean abortion controls. It should only be allowed on the following conditions.


1 significant medical risk to the mothers life as deemed by a doctor

Or

2 before heartbeat in cases rape, incest or within the context of fertility treatments.


Thomas: Interesting. Well I will have to think about this and see if I can come up with a more compelling model.

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6 Comments


Mickell Brown
Mickell Brown
Jun 23, 2023

I don’t really base my prolife position on religion because it’s only speculation. This is very speculation and belief based so I think it’s important to stick to the facts.

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Samuel Pickett
Samuel Pickett
Jul 05, 2022

You are aware of what happens during an abortion, right?

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kkfffu
May 07, 2022

We have the ability to sustain life function in a human body even after the spirit has left it and it is no longer a living soul. There is no reason to believe our Father cannot do the same. Life function begins with fertilization, but there is no heavenly indication that the spirit enters it in that moment. The moment of awakening may come later than we think.


My mother, who is sensitive to such things, felt that the spirit sometimes enters, then leaves, then comes back, maybe leaves again, and so on, a kind of tryout period before jumping in for the long haul. These are, after all, rather small containers for adult spirits.


We do know of adults…


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James Wheeler
James Wheeler
May 03, 2022

Abortion is murder, period. There is never a reason to kill a baby, ever.

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obara2112
obara2112
Dec 13, 2021

Very thought-provoking dialogue, here. It even made me rethink my own position on this issue a little bit. Thank you.

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Jacob Hansen
Jacob Hansen
Dec 13, 2021
Replying to

Thanks. I have spent a while having this dialogue in my own head. This is where I currently have arrived as the most reasonable position. Always open to new ideas though.

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